My name is Jesselyn and I've been ansomic since I was probably about 3 years old. I say 'about' I don't actually have a cause for losing my sense of smell, so I can't pinpoint an exact time. Other people are born with it, or have been hit in the head hard enough to lose it. I don't remember one day realising that I couldn't smell anything, so I just have to go from the latest smell that I can remember. There has been the suggestion that I was kicked in the face as a child in the swimming pool, causing a deviated septum (that's the middle bit of your nose) which caused the inside of my nose to grow squiffy as I grew, potentially causing my anosmia.
To be diagnosed with anosmia, I've had a blind smells test; which is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. The doctor held a number of different unmarked vials under my nose and I had to say what I could smell. I was later told that these included menthol and ammonia, yet I couldn't smell a thing. As there was no particular 'official' incident that could explain my onset of anosmia I've had a few tests done, such as my inner nose being examined with an endoscope and a CT scan. After this I was told that yes, I definitely don't have a sense of smell, no, they don't know what caused and it, and no, I will never get it back. Refusing to give up, after being told that there was nothing that could be done medically to retrieve my sense of smell I tried alternatives such as craniosacral therapy (which was weird) and accupuncture (which was horrific) all to no avail.
After those failed to work, I just sort of gave up and forgot about ever seeking treatment. After all, I'd been told that there wasn't anything that could be done. However, at the start of this year, I came across an article in the newspaper:
"Sweet smell of success - A pioneering surgical unit that restores the sense of smell has been forced to turn away patients all over the country. Health chiefs say the service has become a 'victim of it's own success', with it's one surgeon, Dr Carl Philpott being overwhelmed with patients. James Paget University Hospital, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk has the only clinic in Britain that treats anosmia, an inability to smell"(I feel like I should now take the time to point out that I'm a university student in Norfolk and after a bit of digging around have found out that this Dr Philpott actually occasionally lectures there.)
With this article, I definitely didn't focus on the bit about turning away patients, but concentrated more on the fact there was now actually a surgical unit that can treat ansomia. After having being told that I would never be able to smell again, here was hope that I actually could. This July (2013) I actually underwent the procedure that could potentially restore my sense of smell. Although there does not seem to be any hard evidence that it has worked, it can be a very long recovery process, so I have not yet completely given up.
So why the blog?
As I've mentioned before, there are over 200,000 people in Britain that suffer from anosmia and yet there is only 1 doctor in the whole country than can treat it. If it was any other disability I would be willing to bet a large amount of money that there would be teams of medical professionals and facilities all over the country that would have the resources to treat it. Before I came across this article I was under the belief that ansomia then was just one of those things that couldn't be fixed and thought nothing more. But now I know it can actually be fixed, it's just that the majority of doctors are choosing to do nothing about it, I've decided that so many more people need to be made aware of the impact not having a sense of smell has on your life.
And that's why I've started this blog. I hope you find it interesting and informative and please pass it along to anyone else who's got 5 minutes to spare. It makes all the difference to people like me if people can actually understand what it's like to live without a sense a smell.